My Grandparents’ Legacies

All four of my grandparents came from humble beginnings.  

They have told me stories of hardships in their childhoods, from picking cotton with bleeding fingers, to ringing chickens’ necks, to being a poor live-in maid, to losing a parent as a child, to serving in the U.S. military, to growing up through a continuous divorce and abandonment, to being a child during the Depression, to wiping their bottoms with pages from magazines for toilet paper after they went to the outhouse.

When I think of my grandparents’ lives, I’m amazed at all their resilience, toughness, and lack of bitterness. I also see how easy I have had it and how blessed I am to learn from them and be loved by them.

When I think of each of my grandparents, I also think of nuggets of wisdom I have learned from them.

My maternal grandmother, Rosemary Harper, has taught me to pray and trust God no matter what and to see the value in every person.

Grandmom Harper is ALWAYS trying to meet any person that crosses her path. At any opportunity she asks how she can pray for him or her. When she gets home she writes the name of the person she met in her journal, along with a prayer, and she commits to praying for that person for three days.

She is the first one to pray about any situation and always believes God’s way is the best way for us all. Her faith is immovable. 

I also love how she will treat a janitor the same as she would treat someone wealthy or most powerful. She taught me that God made everyone, loves everyone, and that everyone is important. Grandmom doesn’t judge a person’s importance by who they are or what they’ve done. To her every person matters.

Grandmom is very cautious about what she allows in her home, and it’s a lesson I’ll always remember. Growing up, she wouldn’t allow us or anyone to have anything in her house that she felt was dangerous spiritually or emotionally. She would say, “I wouldn’t let a snake in my house and so I won’t let ____ in my house.”

My maternal grandfather, Ralph Harper, taught me to be strong and to work hard and be patient.

Granddad always walked tall with a smile on his face. Somehow through whistling and grinning, we always knew Granddad would and could take down any threat. He was a strong man and taught us to be brave and to stand up to bullying even if the person was bigger or older than us. He still lives by the motto “Fear God but not people.”

The most basic example of him teaching me patience and hard work was a lesson we went over many times as we played checkers together. I remember getting excited when I would “jump” one of his pieces and take it off the board. He would calmly tell me, “Sometimes you sacrifice the hot dog to get the steak.” And within a move or two my granddad would have positioned himself to take two or three of my pieces or even win the game completely (he never believed in letting anyone win no matter how young they were).

Of course, at the time, I didn’t fully understand my granddad because I would have much rather had a hot dog than a steak, but his point was wise. We can’t have it all. We can’t win every battle. We must ask what is most important to us and be willing to sacrifice small things to attain bigger more important things.

My paternal grandmother, Doris Layman, taught me to be steady and to do your best in your life without comparing yourself or your situation to others.

I can’t remember seeing Grandmom Layman anxious, worried, or more than a little frustrated. She is always stable and steady and has modeled for me the beauty of controlling your emotions, staying calm and trusting God. She doesn’t let life’s storms knock her around. Her faith and hope is anchor in any trial. 

Grandmom Layman has faced some really unfair circumstances in life, but she never dwells on challenges or hardships. She doesn’t waste her time worrying about what others think or what they are doing. She peacefully strives to serve God and love people and be herself.

I can picture a cousin of mine sharing some struggles they were going through. Grandmom Layman calmly said, “We don’t have to keep score because God can do it for us.”

My paternal grandfather, Bob Layman, has taught me to be generous and to find balance in the serious and humorous.

Granddad Layman has a bit of Santa in him. He loves to give lavishly. We always loved staying with Granddad because he would buy us so many goodies. Even now Granddad still finds ways to surprise us with huge gifts that we could never deserve.

I also love how Granddad Layman is both very serious and intense about things that matter to him, but also loves to laugh, joke, and give people a hard time. He’s shown me to be passionate about things that are important but always be able to joke and be friendly with anyone.

My granddad can make friends anywhere he goes. He is a great conversationalist and a great story teller. I’m so grateful to witness how he combines passion with laughter. 

I’ll always carry a piece of each of my grandparents with me in my heart but I hope to also continue their legacies in the way I live like them.

I’m so grateful I’ve gotten to grow up with four real-life heroes.

Proud to be raised in Burleson (shout out Kelly Clarkson), Jami was even the Elk mascot for her beloved Burleson High School. Jami's greatest pleasure comes from exploring the world and learning about all the beautifully unique people in it, so she started a business in the summer of 2021 taking groups of women around the world! Her business, Women Exploring the World has already taken women to experience Christmas markets in Bruges, Brussels; Paris, and London. They've also taken women to Costa Rica, Italy, Tanzania/Zanzibar, Scotland, and to Norway to see the Northern lights. Jami's greatest gift is her family, Corban, her beloved hubby; Jessy (born 2011); Maggy (born 2013); Lilly (born 2015); and Jude (born 2018). Besides running her travel business, Jami spends her days having adventures with her kids, homeschooling them part-time, assistant coaching PE, attempting to keep her brother and sister labradors out of trouble, keeping her son from killing their cat, and supporting her husband at his Edward Jones office downtown Fort Worth. Jami is a woman secure in God's love for her. He is her first love.


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